Edward Barber

Reviews/Reports 02.04.09

BOBench by you.

English designer Edward Barber recently flew into Auckland on a whirlwind visit to judge this year’s HOME New Zealand Design Awards. As part of his trip he gave two short lectures at Te Tuhi gallery in Pakuranga. I caught the second lecture where he spoke about a number of his projects with studio partner Jay Osgerby.

In describing BarberOsgerby’s design process he stressed their avoidance of computers in the early stages of the design process. He said they prefer the freedom of sketching and modelmaking to bring concepts to life, though they do use CAD in the later stages of product development.

Barber also explained the studio’s new modernist style, saying they try to create products which achieve a kind of timelessness through clear functionality and simplicity of form. He spoke against the swathe of ‘one trick pony’ designs – those eliciting an initial wave of interest then rapidly become last year’s thing – which are very ‘now’ at so many European design schools.

I spoke to him briefly after the lecture, and asked how he had managed the transition from graduate to succesful designer.  He reassuringly told me how he and Osgerby had also graduated during an economic downturn and had spent a couple of years in relative poverty – before of course being spotted by Giulio Cappellini.